5: The Blind Moon

Just arrived?  Read from the beginning here. 


 

EXT.  DOLINA FIELDS.  CONTINUOUS.

Pavel and Liev ride to Skomorokh.  Now and then they check a map.  As they go, the moon wanes.  When it’s gone they arrive at —

EXT.  CHERNAYA RIVERSIDE. NIGHT.

THE BLACK CAT INN

The horses are stabled and A LOOSE COMPANY OF MEN watches Liev and Pavel approach the swollen riverside.  

Pavel eyes the trees.  Liev glares at the torrent.

 

PAVEL

Is it a forest or one big knot?

 

LIEV

And Chernaya’s in full flood.  We’ll never cross tonight.

 

Footsteps from behind.  A well-bearded man, GLEB (40), leads a clopping horse towards the inn.  He stops and bows with a stage actor’s flourish.

 

GLEB

Good evening to you, your majesty, and to you, sir knight.

 

LIEV

(guardedly) Evening, sir.

 

GLEB

I couldn’t help overhearing, sire.  Are you thinking of entering that dark and dank bit of hedge tonight?

 

PAVEL

(suspicious) You seem to know a lot about what we’re thinking, good fellow.

 

GLEB

Just a guess.  Only, I wouldn’t enter Skomorokh on a New Moon night, if you don’t mind my saying so, sire.  They say the forest is particularly nasty on the New Moon.

 

PAVEL

Why is that?

 

GLEB

Rumor has it, Skomorokh is controlled by a sorcerer.  Even so, he’s mortal, and he can’t see too well in the dark.

 

LIEV

All the better reason to enter now, isn’t it?

 

GLEB

You mean, sire, that you actually intend to challenge the sorcerer of Skomorokh?

 

LIEV

I mean to challenge the one who captured a harper of Dolina during the funeral of King Viktor.

 

Gleb bows respectfully at the name.

 

GLEB

If you don’t mind my saying so, sire, it’s dangerous when a powerful man can’t see you for who you really are.

 

LIEV

We know the intents of the Silent Kingdom, good sir.

 

PAVEL

You’ve been of some help to us already, can you tell us the secret of this river?

 

Gleb feigns uncertainty.

GLEB

While I can say nothing personally, I do know a rumor roundabouts here, that once a man crossed the water by asking it for a bridge.

 

PAVEL

Is that all?

 

GLEB

It’s not a thing you’d think of, is it?  Clever bit of magic that, if it’s true.

 

LIEV

Weak bit of magic.

 

GLEB

(shrugging) I wish there were more I could tell you, your majesty.  I hope I’ve been of some service to your quest.

 

LIEV

You have, good sir.  What is your name?

 

GLEB

No one important, sire.  They call me Gleb here.

 

LIEV

Thank you, Gleb.  And goodnight to you.

 

GLEB

(bowing) And to you, sire, and sir.

 

By the inn, he joins his men out of earshot.  They gather round.

 

GLEB

(low) We’ll want to get word to Tishina soon, else there’ll be trouble for his majesty.

 

Pavel pokes the river.

 

PAVEL

Well, Liev, which of us has the honor of looking like a fool first?

 

Liev defers with some chagrin.

 

LIEV

Good river, my friend and I would very much like to get across your torrent.

 

Pavel snickers.

 

LIEV (CONT’D)

If you would be so kind as to provide us with a bridge of some sort, as we are certain such an excellent river as you can, we would be most grateful.  (pause) Thank you.

 

The river rushes on.  Liev sighs.  He starts to turn away.  Suddenly the forest shivers.  The bridge of roots spouts and the forest groans open.  Pavel and Liev stare, then Pavel grins.

 

PAVEL

You always were better at diplomacy.

 

LIEV

Let’s just go.

 

Note: As they cross, blue flowers open in the trees to watch.

 

PAVEL

Be honest, your father wouldn’t have figured that out in a thousand years.

 

EXT.  SKOMOROKH.  NIGHT.

FOREST INTERIOR

The forest is nearly black with shadow.  Now and then blue shining flowers squint.  

Pavel and Liev stop and Pavel lights a torch.  As he stands, the forest shies back noisily.  Thorn bushes with red-purple thorns uncoil and rattle.  

 

 

PAVEL

I don’t think they like fire —

 

Liev draws his sword.  More commotion.  The sound of sifting gravel slithers beneath it.

 

PAVEL (CONT’D)

— or iron.

 

LIEV

Good.  We’ll just follow the…

 

The path ahead is gone.  More gravel sifts.

 

LIEV

Well, we can backtrack to…

 

The path behind is gone.

 

PAVEL

Maybe we should have been more polite?

 

At his glance, a blue flower twists shut.

 

EXT.  TISHINA CASTLE.  SAME TIME.

The wall.  Galen has his hands on the walltop, his eyes half closed, shining like the flowers.  

 

EXT.  SKOMOROKH.  SAME TIME.

Pavel steps closer to Liev and raises the torch.  

 

LIEV

We can’t go anywhere without a path.

 

Sift, sift.  Suddenly a path runs to the right and left of them.

 

PAVEL

I don’t like this.

 

Liev brandishes his sword and the plants cringe back.  He storms deeper into the forest.

 

EXT.  TISHINA CASTLE.  SAME TIME.

Andrei’s steps up to the wall.  

 

GALEN

(distant) Andrei?

 

ANDREI

You’re up late.

 

GALEN

There was something at the bridge.

 

Andrei glances at Galen’s tattoo.  He stands beside him and waits.

 

GALEN

What of the harper?

 

ANDREI

He’s a kind man.  He’s played every song he knows, but he never heard of your mother’s songs.

 

Galen and the forest flinch.  

 

ANDREI

I do hope she is well, Galen.

 

GALEN

The ring though…?

 

ANDREI

It hasn’t changed.  So there’s that.

 

GALEN

I suppose there are more pressing matters in my father’s forest.

 

ANDREI

What is it?

 

GALEN

The Old King’s son…

 

ANDREI

What…?

 

GALEN

He carries his father’s sword.

 

ANDREI

I’ll go meet him…

 

Galen catches his arm without looking.  

 

EXT.  SKOMOROKH.  SAME TIME.

In the forest, the flowers flicker.  Pavel eyes them askance.  

 

EXT.  TISHINA CASTLE.  SAME TIME.

 

GALEN

He’s not alone.

 

ANDREI

Come now, Galen, we’ve heard he’s not like his father.

 

GALEN

(more composed) Let me separate them, bring King Liev to us, and we’ll find out.

 

He releases Andrei’s arm apologetically.

 

GALEN (CONT’D)

You should tell your father.

 

Reluctantly, Andrei nods, hurries down to the garden, leaving Galen on his watch.

 

EXT.  SKOMOROKH.  NIGHT.

Later.  Pavel fidgets, spinning the ace of hearts around his fingers.

 

PAVEL

Why are you really doing this, Liev?

 

LIEV

What do you mean?

 

PAVEL

This quest.  Reckless was never like you.

 

LIEV

If it’s so reckless, then why did you come?

 

PAVEL

It’s like me.

 

LIEV

(a sigh) My father’s soul can’t reach the afterlife if it can’t let go, Pavel.

 

PAVEL

Maybe it can.  Maybe it has.  Maybe it’s everyone else holding on.

 

LIEV

You’re starting to sound like Sasha.

 

PAVEL

I’m flattered, Liev, really, but…

 

Liev starts to retort, but the path moves like a snake and trees groan.

 

PAVEL (CONT’D)

Run?

 

LIEV

Run.

 

They sprint.  The path closes behind and uncoils before them, bending, splitting.  Thorns rattle and stretch.  Trees seem to slide.  Pavel draws his sword and hacks at one.  We see him and Liev together, together, together, apart —

It all stops.  Liev staggers, straightens, looks around in the dark.  Alone.

 

LIEV

Pavel!

 

Elsewhere Pavel chops at another thornbush and leaps a hollow.  The torch sputters

 

PAVEL

Liev!

 

A tall willow snatches at his torch.  He stumbles back into a ditch and falls out of sight.  A rattle of thorns.  The coils arch menacingly.  

Alone, the ace of hearts shivers on a red-violet thorn.  The tree snuffs the torch out.

 



Question of the Week

  1. Anyone know any flower symbolism they’d like to share?  I’m still picking the type of blue flower for the forest.  I’m debating morning glories, just ’cause they’re everywhere here in the Spring.

Notes: 

  1. It sounds quite menacing, but the word “Skomorokh” actually refers to a kind of festival troupe known for its crass and bawdy performances.  Some tsars hated them, others loved them.  They’d often show up on festivals.  However, in the tradition of the deep, dark forest representing the dive into the unconscious, such foolery shall be a deep dark forest and we shall see what becomes of it.
Advertisements

One comment on “5: The Blind Moon

Comments are closed.